City of Wolverhampton – New Covid-19 testing pilot underway at city gurdwara

A Government backed testing pilot specifically for people without symptoms of Covid-19 will begins in Wolverhampton tomorrow (Thursday 19 November).

Faith groups in the city are coming together to support the community led pilot, using fast turnaround lateral flow tests kits, which will take place at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on Sedgley Street.

Unlike the regular Covid-19 test programme, the pilot will provide free tests to people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus.

It aims to identify undiagnosed cases of Covid-19 in order to help protect those most at risk from the virus and will also provide vital information to help inform the rollout of the mass testing technology in the future.

Anyone without symptoms of Covid-19 will be able to get tested for free at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara from tomorrow until Monday 30 November.

Testing is available between 7am and 7pm every day and everyone is welcome. No appointment is necessary.

People who do have symptoms of Covid-19, a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste, should not attend the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara but instead book a test through the normal channels.

The pilot is being delivered in partnership with the City of Wolverhampton Council and NHS Test and Trace.

John Denley, Wolverhampton’s Director of Public Health, said: “Just because you haven’t got any symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have Covid-19, and one of our biggest concerns is people unwittingly spreading the virus around because they simply don’t realise they’re infected.

“We are therefore delighted to be working with NHS Test and Trace and faith groups in the city including Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and local leaders from the Catholic Church, Church of England, city mosques and other faith groups such as Oasis of Love International Church on this important pilot.

“It will make use of lateral flow antigen tests and enable us to identify people who, because they’re asymptomatic, risk accidently spreading Covid-19 to others.

This will help break the chain of transmission and reduce the spread of the virus.”

Latest data shows there were 347.83 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 14 November.

That means some 915 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period, though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.

Utilising new technologies, such as lateral flow tests, is key to the Government’s plans to rollout mass testing, testing large numbers of people in a short period of time, with test results made available quickly, even on the spot.

Mass testing will give people in environments such as hospitals, schools, universities and workplaces rapid reassurance that they are not infected, or allow them to isolate more quickly if they are.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter Covid-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.

“Innovations such as lateral flow tests hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.

“I’m delighted that the City of Wolverhampton Council and the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara are working with us to pilot the latest technology in Wolverhampton, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, both in helping target the virus locally, and helping find ways to roll this technology out further soon.”

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, added: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against Covid-19 with over 32 million tests processed so far.

The work of the City of Wolverhampton Council and Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology.

“This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace, mass testing, which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.”

Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus to others. They will also be advised to book at test if they develop symptoms.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Details of the national lockdown measures in effect until 2 December, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert.

The Teesside Gazette – Mourners gather outside Gurdwara to say goodbye to pillar of Teesside’s Sikh community

Reej Kaur Potiwal – 81 – passed away on Monday 09 November following a heart attack

Mourners lined the streets to say goodbye to a pillar of Teesside’s Sikh community.

Reej Kaur Potiwal, 81, was well-known and well loved by Sikh families and the wider Middlesbrough community.

Her late husband Harbhajan Singh Potiwal was chairman of the town’s Sikh Gurdwara for 25 years.

Reej passed away at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough on Monday, 09 November.

The couple, who lived in Marton, leave 10 children, 55 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

On Monday, Reej’s family organised a funeral procession from her home in Marton to Acklam Crematorium.

Her coffin was pulled by four white horses wearing orange feathers, a symbol of community and belonging in the Sikh religion.

The procession stopped outside the Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji Gurdwara Middlesbrough.

Mourners, who were wearing coronavirus masks and were social distancing, gathered outside on Lorne Street.

They said a prayer in the street and paid their respects to the great-grandmother.

Reej’s family followed the horse and carriage to Acklam Crematorium in five silver Mercedes limousines.

A service, which was limited to 30 people due to covid-19 restrictions, was then held at 2pm.

On Sunday, her son Fatehjeet Singh Potiwal, 51, said: “We’re just so down without her.

“When you have an issue you go to your mam and she would point you in the right direction.

“Now we just feel a bit lost without her. Everywhere she went she had friends. She made friends very easily.

“Everyone has been coming and paying their condolences.

“We have been getting lots of condolences from everyone all of the country. She was a very special person.

“We want to give her a big send off, she deserves it.”

11 November 1918

Armistice day – end of World War I

Each year we commemorate the end of hostilities of World War I
Sikhs together with people of many nationalities come together in Ieper on the 11th of November, which was one of the main battlegrounds of World War I

This year there is no poppy parade and no gathering at the Menen Gate due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kentonline – From Sikh Street to the Gravesend Gurdwara: Marking ten years of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara.

Sean Delaney –

Gravesend – Kent – UK, 09 November 2020. Sikhs across Kent are set to mark the tenth anniversary since one of the largest Gurdwaras in Europe was unveiled – the Gravesend Gurdwara.

Each year tens of thousands flock to the international landmark but as more muted celebrations take place this week to coincide with Divali we look back at the origins of the milestone construction.

At the last census in 2011 there were more than 10,000 followers of the Sikh faith across Kent but the latest estimates suggest that figure has been surpassed in one town alone.

More than 15,000 Sikhs are believed to be living in Gravesend and the surrounding suburbs, making up more than 15% of the total local population.

The origins of the community can be traced back to the 1950’s when a shortage of cheap labour fuelled demand for workers from abroad.

Many Sikhs left India’s Punjab state to venture to post-war Britain and take up work in the riverside town’s paper mill industry and later major construction projects such as the Dartford Tunnel, opened in 1963.

Of these workers, many sought lodgings in Pier Road, affectionately dubbed “Sikh Street” in a 2002 Channel 4 documentary on the first Sikhs to arrive in Kent.

It showed how the comparatively generous pay packets they sent home to their families often sugar-coated the image of life in Britain with many Indian workers living in crowded conditions.

Before the first Gurdwara was established in 1956 by Bhat Sikh Santokh Singh Takk, it was common for Sikhs to gather at each others homes each day to pray.

In fact the origins of the communal prayer can be traced back to a single terraced home in Edwin Street.

Later a group of Sikhs would club together to acquire the previous Gurdwara, in Clarence Place, which opened in 1968 on the site of a former church.

This Gurdwara was eventually closed to make way for the current site in Saddington Street, which now lays claims to being one of the biggest Gurdwaras outside of India.

Opened on 19 November 2010 at a cost of £15 million, and funded entirely by the local community, the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara boasts three meditation halls, two langar halls, a lecture theatre, ICT suite, library, and various sporting facilities.

The construct was produced and carved in India and the interior architecture was modelled on the sacred Golden Temple, known as the eight Wonder of the World.

Stonemasons worked for two years solid on the temple which has been clad inside and out with granite and marble.

It is a source of great pride for the Sikh families who come to pray, learn and socialise, but as Jagdev Singh Virdee, spokesman for the Gurdwara explains it also takes on a much larger role at the heart of the Gravesend community.

“During the lockdown we have had a food service helping many people in the Gurdwara,” he said.

The Gurdwara came together with other local organisations to provide more than 60,000 meals for hospital staff, isolating residents and anyone in need of help, he adds.

Langar, is the term used in Sikhism for a community kitchen where a free meal is served to all visitors, regardless of faith or ethnicity.

Mr Virdee said the Gurdwara was a huge centre for everyone, not just Sikhs, which is reliant on people volunteering their time.

This he explains is a fundamental part of the religion which he says is built on the principles of hard work, daily prayer and sharing with others.

It has been a challenging time for the Gurdwara with extra protocols put in place to ensure the health and safety of all attending.

This includes temperature checks on arrival, limiting the number of people and even creating a new mobile app to give people live updates of the busiest times so people can plan their journey.

“We can make out space and get 180 sat a a time but we don’t let in that many,” said Mr Virdee.

“On the weekend we can get 50-60 at a time. We encourage people to come at all times of the day.”

During the latest lockdown all group prayer has been suspended but is broadcast live via the website and social media daily at 4am and 4pm.

Mr Virdee said the response to the change had been “very positive” adding: “The audiences have been growing day by day.”

Sadly, the latest national lockdown has meant the Gurdwara 10 year anniversary later this month will also be somewhat muted but Mr Virdee said Gravesend’s Sikhs were determined to mark the occasion.

“We are going to have a few celebrations but can’t have much more than that because of the restrictions,” he said, adding events will mostly be online.

The Gurdwara is the centre of Gravesend’s Vaisakhi Festival which takes place every April and marks the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith, or the birth of the Khalsa.

Thousands of residents of all races and cultures descend on the town each year to celebrate and mark the start of their New Year.

But this year the procession, usually flanked with crowds lining the streets with music, dancing and laughter, was shelved in response to the virus outbreak and replaced with a live feed showing prayers at the Gurdwara and community videos.

Divali is also set to begin on Thursday, 12 November with the main celebrations to take place a few days later on Saturday, November 14.

It is billed as the Hindu and Sikh equivalent to Christmas with homes decorated on mass with colourful light displays, gifts exchanged and fireworks to mark the occasion.

But things will again look different this year as celebrations are moved online.

It will also have an impact on long-standing confectionary shops such as Virdee Stores for which Diwali is the busiest time of the year.

The sweet shop was first opened by Jagdev’s father Balwant Singh Virdee in Cutmore Street in 1968 before relocating around the corner two years later to its current location in Arthur Street.

Jagdev’s brother Hardish took over the store with his wife Surinder but since lockdown their youngest daughter Gurpreet Virdee Saib has taken over the reins due to their age placing them at risk from Covid-19.

In normal times there would be up to 30 customers jostling in the shop but now they are restricted to just three at a time, Gurpreet explains.

Each year massive queues form outside to buy Indian sweets for the festival but this month the store is asking customers to pre-order for collection at set times.

“Now we are thinking how we can deliver sweets in the safest way,” said Gurpreet.

“Traditionally people want hot jalebis so people will wait for up to an hour for a fresh batch.”

On the challenge of running the store, the 43-year-old, who also works for a charity supporting woman and girls at risk of violence adds: “It has been fun but quite difficult as well, you can’t run a business in the same way.”

However, Gurpreet says she has enjoyed minding the shop which she has helped out in since she was a little girl.

And has even tried to stamp her own take on the sweets as she follows in her father’s footsteps of creating new exciting flavours.

Her latest concoction consists of Orio mixed with Barfi, a milk-based Indian sweet in a modernising move she calls “East meets West”.

The Indian Express – Mohali travel agency in net for offering fake ‘work permit’ in name of Southall Gurdwara

Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Satinder Singh said that they have registered an FIR against the accused who were allegedly using the letter heads of the Southhall Gurdwara and further investigation was going on into the case.

Written by Kamalpreet Kaur

Southall – Middlesex – UK, 30 October 2020. Police in Punjab’s Mohali have registered a FIR when it came to fore that a local travel agency was using the name of Sri Guru Singh Sabha – Southall (SGSSS), the largest Sikh gurdwara outside India, to con people into a fake ‘work permit’ visa scam.

Using a fake SGSSS logo and letterhead, travel agency with its office in Phase XI, Mohali was issuing ‘provisional’ offer letters to people with a promise to provide them work as ‘pathis’.

One such letter, a copy of which was shown to the Indian Express, read:

“Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall pleased to offer you a job as Pathi. We trust your knowledge, skills and experience will be among our most valuable assets. Should you accept this offer, per gurdwara policy, you’ll be eligible to receive the following confirming your hire date…”

Religious workers can come to the UK on two visas. There is a Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa for a job offered within a faith community, such as Sikh institutions, in the UK, often used to employ granthis on permanent basis.

The second visa is Tier 5 Temporary Religious Workers, who come to perform religious duties for a relatively short period of time, such as raagis.

Both categories, need a sponsor, and in case of Sikhs, a gurdwara or an institution, which has registered as a sponsor to employ people from overseas.

Gurdwaras often provide suitable accommodation and food for its employees.

Talking to the Indian Express, Gurdwara president Gurmail Singh Malhi said, “We were receiving various calls from India, asking us if we were offering any jobs to religious workers, which we were not.

Initially, we just informed callers that no such offers were being made to anyone.

However, when the calls kept growing in numbers, and one of the callers said that people had been bee-lining to get work permit visa through Singh Sabha, Southall, we got concerned.

We asked someone to come forward with reliable evidence that our name was being used.

Eventually, the person who had first called us to cross check, was requested to help and get necessary evidence. I then got in touch yesterday with Ropar IG Amit Prasad and asked him to get the matter investigated at the earliest.

I was soon contacted by SSP Mohali and a proper raid was planned with the help of the informer. I am aware that SP Harvinder Singh Virk and SP Harvir Singh Atwal conducted the raid today”.

Malhi further said that all must remain vigilant so that “no one is able to use religious or other institutions abroad as a way to scam poor people in Punjab.

People should proactively check and cross-verify information from ‘sponsors’ to not get conned”.

Harmeet Singh, general secretary of the Gurdwara, said, “Singh Sabha has not employed from overseas in years now. We are not hiring.

And, Pathis are not on our payroll anyway. It is not a specified job. Many (working here) are volunteers and some are paid depending on the hours of seva they put in. It’s a scam and people need to be wary of being conned”.

Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Satinder Singh said that they have registered a FIR against the accused who were allegedly using the letter heads of the Southhall Gurudwara and further investigation was going on into the case.

Ealing Times – Southall Sikhs offer pandemic aid across London

Tom Holmes Reporter

Southall – Middlesex – UK, 27 October 2020. A Sikh humanitarian aid organisation based in Southall has been caring for the homeless across central London during the pandemic, as well as supplying food to those in Hayes.

NishkamSWAT (Sikh Welfare Awareness Team), which has been operating since 2008, offers healthcare, recovery projects and food for the homeless in central London and during the pandemic, have been offering a free mobile delivery service for homeless people not just in London, but across the country.

The organisation supports thousands of people in the Hayes area, and have branched out to reach 10,000 people across central London and Slough.

The food that the group distributes is supplied by Tesco in Northwood Hills, as part of the company’s Community Food Connection scheme, which sees the superstore donate surplus food to charities.

The scheme was set up in 2015 and is in partnership with FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity.

NishkamSWAT volunteer Kirpa Kaur said: “Hardip began collecting donations from Tesco through Fareshare throughout the pandemic and the donations have been an absolute life saver!

“There’s never anything left over at the end of the night and it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to serve such amazing food to the homeless at our outreach services in London, especially since the number of service users has increased over the pandemic.”

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare, said: “We are incredibly thankful to Tesco for its continued support of FareShare. We work with a number of charities and community groups providing essential support to their local communities and receiving a steady stream of food helps them to feed those who need it most.”

Claire De Silva, Head of Communities at Tesco, added: “We know that the Community Food Connection scheme is making a real difference to groups like NishkamSWAT by providing a little bit of extra help in the shape of surplus food from our stores.

“This is the biggest supermarket food redistribution scheme in the UK, and we know there are more groups that could receive food for the work they carry out, so I would encourage any group that thinks it could benefit to contact FareShare, so we can help even more good causes.”

Sikh Federation UK – Calls for government to define ‘anti-Sikh hate’ after reported cases soar

The government should establish an official term for hate crimes against Sikhs, an MP said today after reported cases soared by 70 per cent in two years.

Preet Kaur Gill, who was the first female Sikh MP, has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for urgent action to address anti-Sikh hate.

Ms Gill is the chair of a cross party group of MPs who have produced a report on the abuse of Sikh people in the UK.

The report, by the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, aims to establish an official name for and definition of hate crimes against Sikhs through a consultation with government and the wider public over 60 days. They propose that the term “Anti-Sikh hate” be used.

They argue that while terms such as ‘Antisemitism’and ‘Islamophobia’ are very well established, hate crimes targeting Sikhs are often “overlooked”.

The report also argues that some religious hate crimes against Sikhs are “almost certainly” being reported under Muslim hate crime based on the assumption of the perpetrator.

According to official Home Office figures, 117 hate crimes were recorded against Sikhs in 2017-18 compared to 202 in 2019-20.

Ms Gill, the shadow International Development Secretary said: “The scale of hate crimes targeting the Sikh community is a phenomenon that is largely invisible to government and the wider public.

“Official Home Office data for the last two years shows the level of reported hate crimes targeting Sikhs has increased over 70 per cent.

“However, the increased reporting is the result of Sikh community organisations raising awareness of the need to report and has been achieved with no government funding or support.

“This must now change as hate crimes against the Sikh community are on the increase and should not be hidden away and ignored.”

The Labour MP said the rise of hate crimes against Sikhs and Gurdwaras was a “grave concern” and that she had heard many “upsetting experiences” from victims.

The report said hate crimes against Sikhs became a “worldwide phenomenon after 9/11” and the lack of an official term or definition was a contributing factor to why this type of crime goes largely “unnoticed, unreported and unrecorded”.

The report also called for increased funding in order to help the reporting of hate crimes against Sikhs – along the lines of provision the government gives to other communities.

In the build up to the December 2019 General Election a Conservative candidate and former Minister told a Sikh rival candidate that he was “talking through his turban.”

In September this year a Sikh taxi driver in Reading was attacked by four passengers after being asked “are you Taliban?”

Meanwhile, in January actor Laurence Fox apologised for comments he made about the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in a World War One film.

The actor had previously referred to “the oddness in the casting” of a Sikh soldier in Sir Sam Mendes’ movie 1917.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government takes this issue very seriously, which is why we published the Hate Crime Action Plan in 2016 and refreshed this in 2018. The Action Plan has helped improve the police response to, and public awareness of, all forms of hate crime.

“We are working with community groups, charities and schools funding projects to tackle racially and religiously motivated hatred and we have also provided £3.2 million in funding to improve security at places of worship at risk from hate crimes for 20-21.”

The News – Protestors at UK’s Speaker’s Corner voice against MSR’s illegal detention

London – UK, 25 October 2020. Pakistani journalists associated with various media outlets and unions protested against Jang group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s illegal detention and the ban imposed on Channel 24, on Thursday.

The protest which was attended by various Pakistani journalists and a UK councillor, among other human rights activists, was held at the iconic Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.

Speaking to Geo News, Mushtaq Lasharie, who is the Honorary Alderman of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “We are here at Speaker’s Corner to highlight the importance of freedom of speech. I want to tell the rulers of Pakistan that this country has never accepted unnecessary curbs on journalism.

“I am here to protest against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been arrested in a baseless and unwarranted case. Even a murder suspect can get bail, but Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been unable to get bail in this case.”

Lasharie further stated that Pakistan and the Jang group were incomplete without each other, and if one was attacked, the existence of the other would eventually face vulnerability.

Journalists raised slogans calling for a free press in Pakistan and collectively rejected the unnecessary curbs on Pakistani journalists and news outlets.

Protestors demanded Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s immediate release, who is in the National Accountability Bureau’s illegal custody for over 200 days in a 34-year-old property case.

Despite the anti-graft watchdog being unable to prove wrongdoing in the case, MSR has been unable to get bail.

The President of Pakistan Press Club in the UK, Shaukat Dar said: “It has been 6-7 months since Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s illegal confinement.

This has angered the global journalism community. If the police of Pakistan can stand by their Inspector General, then we journalists will also stand by our colleagues.

“Right now, all journalists of Pakistan are holding protests and are demanding the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.”

Another senior journalist, present on the occasion, said: “We belong to a democracy, and we want our colleagues in Pakistan to enjoy these freedoms as well.

We demand the government of Pakistan to allow the media to operate freely and false cases against journalists, including the case regarding Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, should be immediately withdrawn.”

Journalists who spoke at the protest gathering said MSR is a journalist before being a media entrepreneur and that he is responsible for running the largest media group in Pakistan.

They said MSR’s detention for nearly eight months is an indictment of the current government and its policies towards media.

Speaking further about the hurdles to freedom of speech in Pakistan, the protesters lamented that thousands of journalists lost their jobs in the last two years alone.

Previously, the South Asia Democracy Watch wrote to The White House, the Secretary of State, and members of the Senate and House members of the Foreign Relations Committee, to condemn the illegal confinement of the Jang/Geo group Editor-in-Chief.

The US State Department, the European Union, and the German government have also raised the question as to why Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been arrested without being charged.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest has also caused an outcry in Pakistan as well as in international forums. Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have termed this arrest an attack on press freedom in Pakistan.

This year, Pakistan fell three spots in the Global Press Freedom Index, from 142 to 145 out of 180 countries.

Barking, Havering, Redbidge University Hospitals – Parminder Kaur, our honorary Sikh chaplain ‘humbled’ to receive MBE

Posted Tuesday, 20 October 2020 by Claire Still

Parminder Kaur Kondral, who supports patients at our hospitals as a volunteer honorary chaplain, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s delayed Birthday Honours.

Parminder is the National Coordinator of the UK Sikh Healthcare Chaplaincy Group and has worked with the group since 2012. The MBE recognises her services to the Sikh community.

She said: “I am truly humbled to receive this MBE. It makes me feel proud of what I have achieved in my lifetime so far. Without the ongoing support from my husband and family, none of these accomplishments would be possible.

“The work I do with hospitals, hospices and healthcare centres across the UK means I am able to support people sometimes in very difficult situations. It is my honour to be able to do this.”

As well as her work with our Trust, Parminder has links with Saint Francis Hospice, Romford, St Luke’s Hospice, Basildon, St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, the John Howard Centre, London, as well as Haven House and Richard House children’s hospices.

In the 2012 London Olympics, Parminder was a community advocate, as well as a games maker, and in 2014, she won a Redbridge Asian Women’s Achievement Award.

Parminder, who is married to Sajit Singh, and has three children and a granddaughter, is an executive member of the Sikh Women’s Alliance and works in the adult health and social services care centre in Barkingside.

The 64-year-old also sits on faith committees across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

The Times of India – Hindus and Sikhs question way hate crimes are recorded as hate crimes rise 8% in England and Wales

London – UK, 13 October 2020. British Hindus and Sikhs are calling for more accurate reporting of hate crimes against them, claiming the vast majority of offences end up wrongly getting recorded as “Islamophobic” offences.

On Tuesday, the UK home office released its statistics about hate crime offences in England and Wales in 2019/2020 which showed that recorded hate crime has risen by 8% compared to the previous year.

The home office collects information from the police on the perceived religion of victims of religious hate crime. “By perceived, we mean the religion targeted by the offender.

While in the majority of offences the perceived and actual religion of the victim will be the same, in some cases this will differ.

For example, if anti-Muslim graffiti is sprayed on a religious temple of another faith, this would be recorded as religious hate crime against Muslims,” the report states.

The report found that race hate crime accounted for three-quarters (72%) of all hate crime offences and had risen by 6%, whilst religious hate crimes had fallen by 5%.

Half (50%) of religious hate crime offences were ones in which the perceived religion of the victim was Muslim (3,089 offences), the report said, whereas after Buddhists, Hindus were the least targeted religion, making up 2% of religious hate crimes (114 offences).

An identical number of 114 offences (2% of crimes) against Hindus was also coincidentally recorded in 2018/2019.

Sikhs were targeted in 202 offences (3% of cases) in 2019/2020 — an increase of 7% compared to 2018/2019.

After Muslims, Jewish people were the most targeted, 19% of religious hate crimes (1,205 offences) this year, followed by Christians (531 offences), the report said.

“We believe crimes against Hindus and Sikhs are much higher than these figures state,” said Trupti Patel, president of the Hindu Forum of Britain.

“We have been working with the Metropolitan Police and the government to get a more correct way of reporting hate crimes.

At present when people have brown skin and are targeted because of their look or the clothes they wear, often these crimes are recorded as being against Muslims, even if the victim is Hindu or Sikh”.

“Many attacks against Sikhs reported to the police fail to register as ‘Sikh’ hate crimes as they are either reported under ‘race’, classified as Islamophobic or lost somewhere in the system.

Sikhs are invisible and ignored,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK).

“We are surprised by the figures reported. We are well aware that that the Hindu community do face hate crime on a regular basis.

Low figures could be due to the community not coming forward to report the hate crime because of a lack of faith that the crimes will be sufficiently investigated and in many instances, individuals from our community have come forward to report but have been discouraged from reporting crimes as hate crimes,” said Rajnish Kashyap, general secretary Hindu Council UK.

Times of India – 13 October 2020

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